NEWS
12/14/2011 12:31 EST | Updated 02/13/2012 05:12 EST

Dealing with dementia: Tips for the holiday season

The holiday season can be particularly stressful for caregivers and people living with dementia. Here are some tips from the Alzheimer's Society to help make the holiday period more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Caring for someone at home:

—Plan ahead and have realistic expectations.

—Organize a series of small events instead of a day-long celebration.

—Plan festivities around a time of day that's best for the person with dementia.

—Host family gatherings in a familiar place and limit to small groups.

—Avoid decorations that look like candy, fruit or another food.

—Decorate your home in intervals so it's less jarring for the person with dementia.

—Have a quiet area where the person can retreat if gatherings become too hectic.

For a long-term care resident:

—Talk to staff in advance; they usually know best what residents can handle.

—Make celebrations simple; it's your presence that counts.

—Bring a favourite book or piece of music; read and sing together.

—Reminisce about past holidays or events to help trigger happy memories.

—Don't prolong your visit if the person seems tired or distressed.

If you're a caregiver:

—Pace yourself and set aside some quiet time during the holidays.

—Ask a friend or neighbour to help you with shopping or cooking a meal.

—Assign children specific tasks and tell them the difference their help makes.

—Set realistic goals; ask yourself how urgent the task is.

—Chat online with other caregivers; a good site is: www.forgetfulnotforgotten.com